Thanks to more than one well-informed Planet reader, a window has been opened to the colorful world of the Bay Area's graffiti artists. It turns out that "Mr. Watchful," the distinctive graffiti meme saluted in our March 30 column, is better known as "Smiley." He is the work of a prolific tagger known as "BROKE." This, and more revelations are available at a website known as Endless Canvas, a site devoted to local "road dogs" who go by the tags ANEMAL, ASK, AURA, BELLA CIAO, BRAG, BROKE, CEAVER, CERN, COPS, DAMSEL, DEADEYES, GATS, HIER, HINT, MEME, MIGUEL, NART, OLD CROW, REKN, STUEY, SWAMPY, TURNIP, VADER66 and YODER.
Endless Canvas ("Graffiti Culture, Bay Area Daily Vandalism" -- http://endlesscanvas.com/) salutes BROKE as an "artist [who] has put up thousands of hilarious stickers, posters and tags all over the bay, off and on, since the mid 90's." BROKE's Smiley character also stars in the comic book "More Beer, Less Work" (http://www.endlesscanvas.bigcartel.com/artist/broke-beer-is-good).
A Planet reader calls BROKE "Berkeley's most prolific graffiti vandal." Requesting anonymity, our reader goes on to note that this wall-artist "tags most often as 'BROKE' or 'PTV' or 'BEER IS GOOD' or with 'beer can' or 'beer face' icons or variations on all these categories. He's into multimedia: much paint (black, white, red, blue, etc) in addition to the slaptags and wheat-pasted posters…. He's active … nearly every night."
Here is some background (courtesy of Endless Canvas) on the two other local illuminaries featured in the March 30 Graffitirazzi column.
"RAS TERMS was born and raised in Miami. As part of the BSK and FS crews, he was a pivotal figure in the Miami graffiti scene. TERMS is a gifted illustrator and painter who has provided many images for the Rastafarian community. Since his arrival in the Bay Area, he has established himself as a character graffiti artist and has lent his talents to serve the community."
"GATS [Graffiti Against the System] is one of the West Coast’s most prolific and rampant graffiti artists. Their iconic characters litter the landscape from coast to coast and have been spotted in over half a dozen different countries around the world."
One of the many surprises provided by Endless Canvas is the discovery that taggers don't always work alone. They frequently contribute collectively to a single piece of comingled wall art. The following example (from an abandoned building on San Pablo Avenue) celebrates the work of three different taggers: SAYE, KEOH, and BUGES.
And here (courtesy of Endless Canvas) is an Oakland wall mural combining the talents of BROKE and OLD CROW.
If you want to buy a poster or T-shirt version of artwork by BROKE (or other local graffiti artists) you can find their work for sale on the Endless Canvas website. As far as walk-in shopping goes, one Planetarian offers: "The only physical location I know to get their art is First Friday."
"A city without graffiti is like a field without flowers." -- Tulz1996
"It's not art or vandalism. It's art because it is vandalism." -- Josiah Rodgers
A video by Voice of Art features both GATS and RAS TERMS.
In an April 10, 2013 article on the legendary tagger Barry McGee (recently featured in a retrospective exhibition at the Berkeley Art Museum), the San Francisco Chronicle identifies SF's Ratio 3 gallery as a graffiti-friendly art-space. In the East Bay, Oakland's Le Qui Vive gallery (1525 Webster Street) also occasionally displays the work of local street artists.